Monthly Archives: July 2012

Elegy for Colorado

Today, a deranged young man in full battle kit shot and killed several innocent people in a movie theater.  Commentators tried vainly to provide “answers” but, of course, there are none.  Our leaders, sensibly, didn’t offer any.  Jeremiah blames society.

Try this simple thought experiment.  Imagine packing up your game console, with your favorite “first person shooter,” and travelling back in time to 1950.  Think of American families you have seen on monochrome TV, like the Cleavers, or Ozzie and Harriet.  Show them how you play your game.  They are not pleased.  They do not wish to see you blasting people with a shotgun.  They ask you to leave.

Once upon a time in America, killing people was considered offensive.  Mr. Cleaver is justly concerned about you, because you lack this most basic feature of human morality.  “First person shooter” describes a game?  Really?  A whole genre?

Today we have violent games and violent movies.  They compete to have the most realistic bloodshed, blood spray, spatter, gore, and the merry clatter of brass cartridges raining onto the deck.  It is murder made pornography, and children play these games.

Children play these games, and children watch these movies.  What do you see in the trailer for an action movie?  Sneering, trash-talk, and threats – backed up by unending gunfire.  If the weapons aren’t full-auto, we’re staying home.

We have created a culture that glorifies might-as-right, brutality, contempt, and disrespect.   We have popular music about being a tough guy, smacking you down, and busting a cap in your ass.

We came to this vile place one step at a time.  We developed an entertainment industry, and this industry found profit in pandering to our basest desires.  At every turn, we claimed our freedom to indulge these desires, while the industry grew more profitable and more effective.

At each step, there should have been a parent – or a teacher, or a pastor – who said “no.”  No, we will not watch the violent TV show.  No, we will not listen to the violent music.  Sit up straight.  Show some respect.  We will not buy the toys, watch the movies, or patronize their sponsors.

As our morality has declined, ironically, entertainment has become one of America’s most successful industries.  Witnesses say they heard the gunfire, and thought it was part of the show.  In a grim way, they were right.

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Government Jobs Don’t Count

Calls to action on the jobs crisis overlook a key fact – the government cannot create jobs.  The best they can do is create an environment conducive to hiring in the private sector, because government jobs don’t count.

If you have a government job, God bless you.  This is honest work, like any other, and you are serving a vital role in our economy.  As the President says, no one is building a business without help from the public sector.  You are not, unfortunately, enhancing investment or producing goods for export.  You are paid out of tax receipts, and therefore your salary is a net loss to the economy.

This is not to suggest that your government job is not important – it is.  The debate over public versus private too often devolves into a contest of whose job is more important.  The private sector could not function without roads and bridges, policemen and teachers.  In the army, this would be the “supply and transport” role, supporting the troops who are fighting at the front.  It takes both to win.

The point is that we cannot possibly fix the economy by hiring more government workers.  This would be a feel-good measure only.  A healthy economy means rising employment in the private sector.

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